Linden Lab Revises Planned Openspace Price Change

As promised, Mark Kingdon released an article for the Big Blog today, announcing changes to the planned price increase on the Openspace sims. As you may recall from our last exciting episode, it was originally planned to do a blanket increase on setup and maintenance (“tier”) in January 2009, with the tier rising from $75 USD to $125. The result was quick (if not instantaneous) and substantially explosive. In addition to blog reactions, a substantial Forum thread was started by the Lindens that grew to at least 250 pages, filled with gripes — but also with calmer, thoughtful commentary and suggestions.

The Lindens read, and listened, and considered. Now they’ve answered:

1. We are going to retain the Openspaces product at its original price point and its original intended use (forest, water, etc.). We will have technical limitations to help regulate their use, initially avatar and prim limit restrictions, eventually event, classified and script limits. Those of you who chose to use the Openspaces as intended may stay at the US$75 rate, but will need to contact the concierge team to do so.

2. If you want more than an Openspace, we will offer you the choice of moving to a new product called Homesteads that is intended for light use such as low density rentals. For existing Openspace owners we will phase in the price increase for this new product over the next 6 months. Homesteads will also have technical limits for avatars and prims, and eventually script limits as well.

* January 5, 2009 – non-compliant Openspaces will transition to Homesteads and the maintenance fees will go from $75 to $95 per month. We will offer an educational discount to qualified educators on the new Homestead product. The discount amount will be the same as Private Regions, roughly 30%.

* July 2009 — the maintenance fees for Homesteads will go from $95 to $125 per month.

There is more detail in the FAQ posted at the Knowledge Base, and a new Forum thread for comment.

This has to be looked at carefully, but I’m not sure that it’s a better deal for the ones who will get burned most — the Residents who were obeying the rules. If I follow correctly, the original void sim had an 1875 prim allowance; now they’re planning to drop it to 750 prims, and with script restrictions in the future that may wash out some recreational vehicle use (this is uncertain as of writing). The people staying in the new Homestead sims will eventually still pay the $125; it’s just deferred until July 2009, instead of January. I won’t say this is a bait-and-switch routine, as some posters in the Forums are accusing the Lindens of doing; I’m not a network or other form of technical hardware specialist, and I’m willing to accept their explanations for now. What I do say is that the proposal is imperfect, and needs more consideration by Linden Lab. It sounds as if they are still willing to listen to calm and reasoned debate — the best kind — and something better could be thrashed out yet.

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Other reactions:

  • Hypatia Callisto suggests that the solution is for Linden Lab to allow large communities to rent their own server and divvy up resources within that area.
  • New World Notes is running a poll on the question. At writing, the “dissatisfied and worried” camp is leading, with about 38% of the total; but those satisfied are second at just under 30%. James also writes about the question for GigaOM, noting that a lot of the “contentment” is seasoned with a good bit of grumbling as well.
  • In the category of “contented”: Common Sensible; Crap Mariner; Harper Beresford; Nexeus Fatale.  Not thrilled:  Hotspur Otoole.  Okay but critical:  Raul Crimson.

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